HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Nurses and caregivers rallied inside and outside the state capitol on Tuesday, June 25 demanding the legislature fund healthcare staffing and get money to the bedside.

As state legislators went into session to discuss the budget, the ralliers wanted to be clear that federal COVID relief funds must be used to rebuild the healthcare workforce and save lives.

“I want legislators to know that not making fundamental changes in healthcare, and investing in more staffing immediately, this crisis is going to be worse than anyone can imagine. I see short staffing first-hand and know what it does to people,” Nelson Jones, a nursing home worker from Philadelphia, said.

Surrounded by hundreds of posters with short staffing stories submitted from caregivers, patients, nursing home residents and families, the group met with legislators with demands.

Such demands include the billions PA received in federal COVID relief funds to be invested into staffing and bedside care; transparency and accountability to make sure money reaches bedside; $250 million to be provided to nursing home staffing; the filling of public nurse vacancies across the state with $25 million to keep communities safe; and fully funding the Department of Human Services budget.

“The morale of workers goes down when it’s impossible to do all that needs to get done, and you can’t be there for your residents like they need. You see it on the faces of the residents. They lose hope. And your hope is gone, you’re sitting there in a wheelchair or bed day after day, and you’ve got nothing,” Jones said.